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Published on Aug 22, 2013
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Benjamin Barker, performing for Salt Lake City during prelims at the 2013 National Poetry Slam.
For my 6th birthday my grandfather gave me a Rubik's cube I will always be able to remember its edges Hold it in my hands Heft the weight of an overwhelming problem.
I remember him telling me about it, How a Rubik's cube has 43 quintillion, 252 quadrillion, 3 trillion, 274 billion, 489 million, 856 thousand possibilities.
He told me it can be really confusing sometimes, but to look at the center squares as a reminder of what color each side should be.
We are celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary He and grandma are dancing a dance that only fragile legs and wrinkled hands know how to. That type of happiness took him 70 years to earn. The white side of the cube is solved.
He tells me about how he met grandma His college friends had a sunset picnic She was there, As beautiful as an unsolved puzzle She was a redheaded scramble on orange tile sky.
The hospital walls are blue The nurses explain that his memories have become jumbled strangers in family portraits pictures with mismatched faces. Alzheimer's has made his mind into a Rubik's cube.
He is a highway patrolman His car is white, No no, it's blue He worked there for 30 years some nights he still does. Time is a complicated algorithm.
The pills he holds are yellow and red and green the weight of their color causes his hand to drop I try to shift his tiles back into place But people don't have center squares. His mind is a hospital bed divided by zero.
My sister's wedding is white but he doesn't know why.
World War Two is every color the south pacific is blue, the islands are green There is so much red.
Grandpa, Table, Cube, Names scrambled California Guitar grapefruit highway Wedding bell wars Stick shift rifles South pacific mirrors.
shift shift shift shift shift shift shift shift
The temperature of his hands is blue. Death is colorless.
I will always remember his edges Hold him in my hands Heft the weight of an overwhelming problem.
I was unable to attend his funeral, I never found out the algorithm to solve him.
A Rubik's cube has over 43 quintillion possibilities. A casket only has one.